After edging their way through to the semis thanks to a superior NRR, the Kiwis now face an uphill task against an in-form Indian team. Despite sticking to the same team for the first six matches, the Kiwis made a few changes in their last two games, in a quest to find their best combination.
Martin Guptill: With scores of 25,0,35,0,5,20 and 8 in his last seven innings, Guptill is under extreme pressure to deliver, and it will be fair to say that how he fares might very well have an impact on the result of the match. A failure against India might put Guptill’s spot in the team under scanner and the Kiwi will be desperate to deliver the goods for his team in the crunch situation.
Colin Munro: After getting the axe due to just one fifty in six innings, New Zealand might look back to Munro to provide them more firepower and intent at the top, especially after Henry Nicholls failing to make the most of his chances. The southpaw has a T20 hundred to his name against India, and there would be no better platform for Munro to score his maiden ODI century, against the best team in the world in the grandest stage the sport has to offer.
Kane Williamson: Williamson has all but carried the New Zealand batting on his shoulders in this World Cup, scoring a staggering 32% of the team’s runs on his own. But the Kiwi skipper might have a point to prove against India, having scored just 2 fifties in his last 11 ODI innings against them. But saying that, it won’t be beyond Williamson to score yet another century and take his team into their second consecutive World Cup final.
Ross Taylor: After a brisk start to the tournament, Ross Taylor has slowly lost sight and faded away in the tournament, scoring just one fifty in his last six innings. But on the bright side, Taylor boasts an average of 41 against India in H2H matches and being one of the pillars of New Zealand’s batting line up, the onus will be on the veteran to make his experience count and deliver on the big occasion.
Tom Latham: After a string of sub-par performances, Tom Latham finally arrived to the party in the game against England, scoring a fluent 57. The southpaw boasts an average of 58 against India and would be looking to repeat his heroics from 2017, where his unbeaten century helped New Zealand chase down 281 against India in Mumbai. The selectors have put their faith on Latham, and now it’s Latham’s turn to pay them back with performances.
Jimmy Neesham: Primarily picked as a bowling all-rounder, Jimmy Neesham has been a silver lining in this New Zealand lineup, exceeding expectations with the bat, with his 97* against Pakistan serving as a testament to his ability. Having shown the ability to both hang around and accelerate when needed, Neesham would certainly be hoping to hurt India the same way he hurt the noisy neighbours with the bat. Neesham has also shown nerves of steel with the ball and having the knack of breaking partnerships, New Zealand would be hoping for him to catch India by surprise.
Colin de Grandhomme: Colin de Grandhomme got the prized scalp of Virat Kohli in the warm-up match, and would probably give all he has to do the same in the semi-final. Despite being under-utilized with the ball so far this World Cup, de Grandhomme has done what has been asked of him, chipping in with valuable contributions with both bat and ball. Just like his compatriot Neesham, de Grandhomme would be looking to catch India off guard with both bat and ball.
Mitchell Santner: Despite the wickets column not reading pretty (four in seven innings), Santner has kept the runs tight, conceding a tad over five runs an over. The left-armer would also be looking to exploit the Indian middle-order, with MS Dhoni sporting the lowest strike rate against spin in this World Cup. Picking wickets might come as an added bonus, but Santner would primarily be looking to tie down the Indian batsmen and keep the runs under check.
Matt Henry: After claiming seven wickets in the first two matches of this World Cup, Matt Henry has picked just three wickets in his last five matches, indicating a massive dip in form. However, with conditions expected to favour swing bowling, Henry would be looking to exploit the conditions and trouble the Indian batsmen both in the air and off the seam.
Trent Boult: Swinging conditions plus a confident Trent Boult steaming in - a nightmare for any batsmen in any form of Cricket. Having dismantled the Indian top-order thrice in the last three H2H encounters - including the Warm-up game at The Oval, Boult will be itching to bowl in conditions expected to assist swing bowling. With both Indian openers proving susceptible to the inswinger in the past, the left-arm pacer would be looking to get rid off them in them and dent the Indian batting lineup within the first powerplay.
Lockie Ferguson: Lockie Ferguson has been a revelation for New Zealand in the World Cup, intimidating and getting the better of the batsmen with raw pace. Having missed the last game due to a hamstring niggle, Ferguson would be raring to have a go against the formidable Indian batting lineup. In what would be the toughest challenge for Ferguson yet, unlike the other matches, how Ferguson varies his pace might prove to be the deciding factor, rather than how he bombards it.
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